At long last, after minimal planning, much delay, and a handful of unexpected obstacles, I have booked all my flights and made most of the necessary arrangements for my adventures this summer in Asia.
It is customary here at NAC for men to spend their first summer abroad doing some sort of apostolate away from their home diocese. Typically that means either learning a new language or doing pastoral or missionary work. I will be teaching English in China for four weeks with two of my classmates, under the auspices of the Maryknoll Society.
It is my understanding that we will have about a week of orientation in Hong Kong before crossing over into Mainland China and flying up to Jilin, in the northeast, to spend the remaining three weeks working with Chinese medical students to perfect their English. It’s not missionary work; we are forbidden from initiating conversations about the Faith. It’s not exactly pastoral either. I suppose there will be an opportunity to learn Chinese, and I’ll learn what I can, but that’s not my purpose there. Rather, I hope to learn about the missions and how the Church engages oriental cultures, as well as get some experience teaching. I think it will prove beneficial to my future priestly ministry (as does the College, which endorses the program).
Since I’ll already be in on that side of the world, I decided to spend a few weeks traveling around the region. My traveling companions and I will spend the better part of our first week in Japan, before the program starts. We’ll stay with the Maryknolls in Tokyo for a day or so, and then go to their house in Kyoto, where we’ll spend the duration of that trip. Then, after the program ends in August, we’ll spend a few days with the Maryknolls in Manila before spending our last few days in Singapore.
I will then return to Rome a few weeks early in order to help out with New Man Orientation before the rest of the house shows up and the new school year begins.